Hiking in New Zealand’s South Island

Set in the azure seas of the South Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is renowned for its clean green environment and remarkable scenic beauty from rugged mountains and ancient glaciers to beaches, bays and bush. Discerning travellers from all over the world rate New Zealand a destination not to be missed.

This itinerary offers an exploration of some of the South Island’s most dramatic scenery taking guests from Christchurch on the East Coast through the Canterbury Plains, the beautiful landscape of the Arthur’s Pass National Park to the West Coast. Here guests will have the unforgettable opportunity to hike on the Franz Josef glacier before travelling to Queenstown – a spectacularly located resort town set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and backed by the Southern Alps.

A guided hike in the Mount Aspiring National Park is combined with an exhilarating jet boat ride on the pristine Dart River followed by a 3 day/2 night trek on the Hollyford Track which culminates in a spectacular scenic flight to majestic Milford Sound.

 

Day 1: Arrival into Christchurch

Upon arrival at Christchurch International Airport you will be met by a Lightfoot representative who will hand transfer you to your accommodation.

Spend today at leisure trying out any of the following optional excursions: visit the Canterbury Museum, punt down the Avon river, hot air balloon over the Canterbury plains soaking up all the stunning views or perhaps travel abroad the vintage tram for a history tour of the city centre.

 

Stay: The George

Day 2: Christchurch - Franz Josef

This morning you will be driven to Christchurch Railway Station from where you board the Tranz Alpine Railway which is reputed to be one of the greatest train journeys in the world.

Travel across the Canterbury Plains, over Arthur’s Pass through the spectacular Southern Alps before descending through the rainforests of the West Coast.

On arrival at Greymouth Station you will pick up your private car and drive to Franz Josef (approx 2 hours 15 min drive).

 

Stay: Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Day 3: Franz Josef - Queenstown

This morning enjoy a guided heli-hike excursion, combining a helicopter flight to the Franz Josef Glacier with a guided walk amongst ice caves, pinnacles and seracs. View the extraordinary colours of the ice-flow from above and then up close, on an unforgettable guided walk (approximately 3 hours duration).

After your excursion, drive to Queenstown. We suggest driving via Lake Matheson, renowned for its mirror images of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman, New Zealand’s highest peaks.

Drive via the scenic Crown Range to Queenstown, perhaps stopping at the famous Cardrona Pub for refreshments. The drive between Franz Josef and Queenstown takes approximately 4 hours 30 minutes.

 

Stay: The Spire

Day 4: Hikes around the Glenorchy Area

You will be met at your accommodation for a scenic drive along the shores of Lake Wakitipu to Glenorchy (approximately 45 minutes’ drive). Upon arrival at Glenorchy, enjoy an exhilarating jet boat ride on the scenic Dart River, taking you through wilderness so untouched it has been declared a World Heritage Area.

Two fascinating hours and 35km later, not to mention 150 metres higher, your guide leads you on a gentle ascent under a canopy of native beech forest, where birdsong supplies an unrivalled, natural soundtrack. The vast numbers of plant species compete for attention with the orchestra of native bird life and your guide will point out your new, inquisitive travelling companions as they stop by to look you over.

After a delicious picnic lunch in a forest glade it’s on to the magical, forest-framed waters of Lake Sylvan. Sylvan teems with native trout and in season, the most attractive species of geese and duck. Winding back from the lake, the track ambles through to the Routeburn River, flowing down the very edge of the forest. A stout swing bridge carries you over the deep water far below, and on to your transport. From there it’s a short drive through rich farmland to Glenorchy where you might enjoy a brief refreshing stop in the local country pub, before the road trip back to Queenstown.

Your pre departure briefing for the Hollyford Track begins at 5.25pm at your accommodation. Your guide will explain the details of the Track and hand out rain jackets and backpacks to those requiring them.

 

Stay: The Spire

Day 5: Queenstown - Hollyford Track

Depart Queenstown after breakfast, travel alongside beautiful Lake Wakatipu and on to Te Anau.

After a brief stop, depart for the Hollyford Valley and travel through the majestic Eglington Valley to the start of the Track in the Hollyford Valley visiting Gunn’s Camp museum on the way. Re-trace the footsteps of early explorers along the Hollyford River to Pyke River Lodge.

As the Track undulates gently through native beech forest and beside tumbling waterfalls enjoy interesting historical tales and interpretation of the forest and bird life. In the evening you can visit a nearby glow-worm colony.

You will stay for the next two nights in a boutique lodge on the Hollyford Track.

Day 6: Hollyford Track

Begin your day with a short walk to Lake Alabaster and learn of the history and geology of the area whilst in the midst of stunning surroundings.

Cross Fiordland’s longest swing bridge and then enjoy a captivating jet boat journey down the Hollyford River and across Lake McKerrow to the historic site of Jamestown that was intended to be the capital of the South Island in the late 1900′s. Walk through the ancient Podocarp forest (New Zealand native pines) with huge Rimu, Totara and Kahikatea trees wrapped in massive Rata vines.

Arrive at your accommodation by 5.00pm.

Day 7: Hollyford Track - Queenstown

Walk through the young rejuvenating forest of Jerusalem Creek and visit the fur seal colony at Long Reef on the wild West Coast. You may see the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin.

Travel by jet boat to the beach and explore the seven kilometre Martins Bay Beach sand-dunes and lagoon. Learn about its history and its plant, sea and bird life.

Return to your accommodation and then enjoy a scenic flight to Milford Sound, with views of the Track route, Hollyford Valley and Mt Tutoko, Fiordland’s highest peak. There is an option at additional cost to cruise Milford Sound if you wish.

Board your coach for your return journey to Queenstown with stops of interest along the way. Arrive back no later than 7.30pm.

 

Stay: The Spire

Day 8: Queenstown - Christchurch

Spend this morning at leisure enjoying private guided tours, a steamer cruise aboard the TSS Earnslaw, play golf, hot air balloon or horse ride through the rolling alpine countryside.

This afternoon, you will be driven to Queenstown Airport for your flight to Christchurch where you will be met by a representative who will transfer you to your accommodation.

 

Stay: The George

Day 9: Departure from Christchurch

This morning you will be met at your accommodation by your private car and transferred to Christchurch Airport prior to your onward flight.

* This basic structure works very nicely, but don’t forget that Lightfoot Travel can provide a range of experiences and we tailor-make each itinerary based on your travel requirements. Get in touch to start planning your perfect trip with your own travel designer.

Looking for something different? Visit our main New Zealand page for further inspiration.

 

Itinerary

Duration Description Overnight
Day 1: Arrival into Christchurch The George
Day 2: Christchurch - Franz Josef Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Day 3: Franz Josef - Queenstown The Spire
Day 4: Hikes around the Glenorchy Area The Spire
Day 5: Queenstown - Hollyford Track
Day 6: Hollyford Track
Day 7: Hollyford Track - Queenstown The Spire
Day 8: Queenstown - Christchurch The George
Day 9: Departure from Christchurch

Inclusions

Included

  • Accommodation with daily breakfast
  • Excursions
  • Transfers or car hire
  • Activities with guides
  • 24 hour emergency contact

Not Included

  • International flights
  • Visa if necessary
  • Personal expenses
  • Hotel early check in / Late check out
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Travel insurance (please note that this is required for all Lightfoot Travel holidays)

Map

Christchurch Arthur's Pass Queenstown

From US$ 5,830 per person based on two persons travelling (flights not included)

Notes on our prices

  • This price guide provides you with a broad indication of how much to budget for your holiday.
  • Prices are generally based on two people travelling together (unless stated otherwise) on a shared room basis.
  • Prices can fluctuate depending on season, standard of accommodation, excursions selected (private versus shared) etc.
  • This basic structure works very nicely, but don’t forget that Lightfoot Travel can provide a range of experiences and we tailor-make each itinerary based on your travel requirements. Get in touch to start planning your perfect trip with your own travel consultant